Pacific Division Preview: Stars Shine Bright in Dallas

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Pacific Division Preview: Stars Shine Bright in Dallas

The Pacific division seems to be one of the more competitive divisions in the NHL. The San Jose Sharks won the division last season, but will they be able to beat out the hungry competitors of the Pacific division this time around?

 

Pacific Division

  1. Dallas Stars 105 Points
  2. San Jose Sharks 101 Points
  3. Anaheim Ducks 95 Points
  4. Phoenix Coyotes 86 Points
  5. Los Angeles Kings 77 Points

The Dallas Stars had an excellent 2007-'08 season. They beat out their fellow divisional foes in the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks in the playoffs. The Stars eventually were defeated by the future Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings.

The Stars made a solid move in the offseason by signing former New York Ranger Sean Avery. Avery had a productive year with New York, scoring 15 goals with 18 assists. The Pickering, ON native will be an instigator that can protect the Stars' most productive forwards.

The Stars will have very good offense this season. The Stars have great offense with forwards Brad Richards, Mike Ribiero, Mike Modano, Brendan Morrow, and Jere Lehtinen, all will be very productive forwards for Dallas.

Dallas will have a good defense and solid goaltending this season. Dallas' better defensemen are Phillipe Boucher, Sergei Zubov, and Stephane Robidas.

Boucher was solid, defensively, last season, but he had his season cut short by injury. Zubov is a puck-moving veteran defenseman that can be productive on the power-play; he put up 35 points for the Stars last season. Robidas was also solid in 2007-'08 with 26 points.

Marty Turco will be great starting in net for Dallas. Backing Turco up will be youngsters Tobias Stephan and Matt Clime, both have played a combined one game in the NHL.

San Jose will be right in the thick of the Pacific Division title race. Losing Brian Campbell may hurt their defense, but the offseason acquisitions of Dan Boyle and Rob Blake may make the pain go away.

San Jose will have very good offense with forwards such as Joe Thornton, Milan Michalek, Jonathan Cheechoo, Joe Pavelski, and Ryan Clowe. These forwards will complement San Jose's exceptional defense. The Problem for San Jose in recent seasons has been winning games in the playoffs.

The Sharks are hoping Rob Blake and Dan Boyle will give San Jose the toughness and experience to help them go deeper in the playoffs. Young defensemen like Christian Ehroff and Marc-Edouard Vlasic will be relied on to be high-energy players and cover the opposing teams quicker players. Along with goaltending, the Sharks have a solid defensive team.

Evgeni Nabokov had an incredible season, but he looked fatigued in the playoffs. Brian Boucher will need to play a little more games for Nabokov to be well rested in the playoffs. Boucher is a solid back-up that will give the Sharks more veteran presence.

The Ducks are another team that will be in the division race until the end of the season. The acquisition of Brendan Morrison will add more playoff experience to Anaheim, like they needed it.

Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry will be solid offensively for the Ducks. The Ducks have an enviable amount of fundamentally sound forwards. Players like Sammy Pahlsson, Rob Niedermayer, and Todd Marchant play great two-way hockey and have plenty of playoff experience.

With one of the best defenses in the NHL, the Ducks will be great at the blueline. Veteran defenseman like Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, Sean O'Donnell, and Mathieu Schneider are physical and capable of putting the puck in the net as well.

Anaheim has arguably the best goaltending tandem in the NHL, with the incredibly consistent Jean-Sebastian Giguere and the very steady Jonas Hiller. Hiller is a very good backup, who could one day become a starter for another team.

The Phoenix Coyotes had a great offseason, as far as offense is concerned. The Coyotes acquired star Panthers' forward Olli Jokinen, in exchange for Nick Boynton, Keith Ballard, and a second-round pick.

Shane Doan, Peter Mueller, and Kyle Turris will be solid offensively with Olli Jokinen. The Coyotes also have strength, with Todd Fedoruk. It seems Phoenix's offense has taken a step in the right direction.

The defense, however, took a step back. The losses of Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton leave the Coyotes thin at the blueline. Ed Jovanovski, Derek Morris, and Zbynek Michalak will have to step up if Phoenix wants to be able to stop anybody.

The Coyotes' goaltending will be decent with Ilya Bryzgalov and Mikael Tellqvist. Bryzgalov will most likely start, with Tellqvist as a solid backup.

The Kings will be good in the future, but it's still going to be few years before the Kings contend for a playoff spot.

The Kings look solid offensively on paper, with forwards such as Anze Kopitar, Alexander Frolov and Derek Armstrong. Building good chemistry has been a problem for the Kings' young team. If they can develop four solid lines, the Kings will improve from last season.

The Kings will be solid defensively in the future, with Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson. The present defense, on the other hand, will be decent at best. Tom Priessing and Denis Gauthier Jr. will be steady at defense, for the Kings.

In between the pipes, the Kings are extremely young. The oldest goaltender with Los Angeles is Jason LaBarbera (28). The starting net-minder position seems to be a mystery. The Kings are hoping they can get to the bottom of this mystery before the season starts.

The Pacific division will be extremely competitive this season. In my opinion, the Stars, Sharks, and Ducks will make the playoffs. The Kings and Coyotes will be improved this season and could definitely be spoilers to watch for near the end of the season.

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